Quoted from knockerlover:
It sucks that this happened to anyone..But again, unless one of the EA's is a bloodthirsty lawyer, I sincerely doubt anyone is going to look at this and think there is any money left to be had.
From the standpoint of the bloodthirsty lawyer, who preordered RAZA #4, I view this Pinsider's outline as accurate. I would add a clarification, though.
The primary obstacle to legal recourse on the part of preorder customers has always been a fear of incurring excessive, unrecouped legal fees and costs. A "class action" is a specialized legal claim that has never been available in the USA preorder debacles, like Zidware and Skit-B. Typically, class actions require thousands or tens of thousands of victims who share virtually identical grievances.
A court must certify/approve the class. One or more lead class members represents the entire class. Class actions are designed to streamline a large volume of "low value" cases to economize court resources, legal fees and costs.
The available legal route for preorder customers, like the EAs here, is a "group action" as opposed to a "class action." A lawyer can often be found to work on a hybrid flat fee/contingency basis, which allows the victims to cap or circumscribe legal fees and litigation costs. That is how the dozen or so Zidware victims were able to economically seek legal redress and obtain a favorable judgment at trial. Their lawyer was willing to absorb some of the litigation risk precisely because his contingency fee, if successful, would be based on a twelvefold quantum and because the pleadings had already been filed, requiring the joinder of new plaintiffs merely via amendment.
Hiring an experienced litigator for a singular claim, on an hourly fee basis, with $15K or less at stake, is usually economically unfeasible. I was able to take on that task against Zidware under these extraordinary circumstances:
1) The debacle's timing was relatively early, prior to the Jpop rescue efforts of Pintasia, American Pinball and Deeproot, meaning that other creditors had not already depleted assets (if any had existed). The slate was clean; no other suits by customers (or vendors, as I recall) had been filed, at that time. Jpop had brought empty cabinets to an expo and refund requests were virtually all ignored (1 Pinsider received a refund after threatening legal action, post-expo). I began preparing for suit shortly thereafter;
2) Zidware and its officers were all based in Illinois;
3) As a trial attorney licensed in New Jersey and Washington, DC, I was able to prepare drafts of the complaint (i.e. the lawsuit's initial pleading) thereby averting the hourly legal fee. However, I needed a local attorney admitted to practice in Illinois;
4) I knew a talented civil litigator in Chicago willing to represent me and to allow me to keep fees to a minimum, based on my ability to assist.
Needless to say, for Early Achievers to replicate a "group action" here, a dozen or more would likely be needed to organize and retain Dutch counsel. With $100K or so total at stake, a hybrid retainer might be feasible, for those inclined toward proactive efforts.
Having endured the anxiety-producing Zidware rollercoaster debacle, my heart breaks for those who had hostage games. The removal of game plaques is, in retrospect (and perhaps in the future), instructive. I disagree with the notion that these TBL games were fungible goods.
If this dispute had been in the USA, an "intervenor action" could have been brought for injunctive relief, after ARA's suit but prior to any ARA adjudication. The legal argument could have been that these fully-paid games were designated to EAs (highlighting the plaques as evidence) and that EAs had the 1st right to purchase or otherwise acquire them.
An equity court (or law division court) judge (or arbitrator) would have been called upon to craft an equitable remedy, somehow splitting the proverbial baby. EAs may have been required to pay more; but, I imagine that a U.S. court would have fashioned some Solomonesque solution, making everyone at least marginally satisfied. Minimally, a skilled attorney on behalf of EAs could have monkey-wrenched ARA's claim enough to have secured some concessions for EAs.
Whether Dutch law would have operated similarly or whether a future path exists, however dubious, regarding parts or other assets is up for debate.
I enjoyed playing TBL at Pinfest a few years ago. Naturally, my fingers remain crossed that EAs ultimately receive a remedy, even in the twilight of this saga. I apologize for this long post. . .hope I haven't contributed to the anxiety, which would be unDudelike, for sure. I do not mean to be an interloper here. Instead, having followed this thread, my intention is to add some clarity, particularly on the incorrect use of the class action terminology.